Dell Software launches major upgrade of AppAssure

Michael Grant, director of product marketing, data protection, Dell Software

Michael Grant, director of product marketing, data protection, Dell Software

Today, Dell Software is announcing the launch of AppAssure 5.4, their all-in-one backup, replication and disaster recovery software solution. The new release adds many new enhancements, particularly those which improve replication and optimize performance and reporting.

“In the last year, we have started to see a consolidation of our backup and replication portfolio,”  said Michael Grant, director of product marketing, data protection, Dell Software. “We looked at the pieces of intellectual property we owned after our acquisitions of AppAssure and Quest, on top of the earlier acquisition of Ocarina, created a data protection practice, and how we could best combine them.”

Grant said that this reorganization coincided with an increase in demands by customers that Dell do something to address their backup issues, something that is part of a broad industry trend.

“Current backup isn’t meeting business reality,” he said. “Customers were coming to us saying that their backup products have required some compromise which has become unacceptable, and doesn’t their meet recovery point or time objectives.”

Grant said the increased integration of image-based AppAssure with Ocarina’s deduplication and NetVault’s file-based technology will address these issues. While key steps have been taken in the 5.4 released he said Dell was very much on a track to do additional integration.”

“There is a common GIO framework now across all the products, and the Ocarina dedupe algorithm is now used in all of them,” said Jason Raymond. AppAssure’s completely new interface reflects this, although at this time, that’s the main change users will see. The significant back end changes won’t be visible to users.

While AppAssure 5.4 has been in development for 22 months, its’ longest beta period ever, and has over 50 new features,  the enhancements to replication which leverage the Ocarina technology are particularly likely to impress users.

“Our replication has always been a free feature, but this version now features the ability to replicate to as many targets as you like,” Raymond said. “It’s no longer just Point A to Point B.”

Other new replication features include scheduled replication that enables users to set customized replication schedules for each target, which will allow setting different retention policies for different types of replication tasks. New advanced replication throttling also lets users limit the speed of replication in bandwidth-constrained environments.

“We think this will encourage a lot more businesses to take the plunge into replication, particularly as 60% of our customers are already using the replication feature,” Raymond said. “This ability to lower the cost of bandwidth means that it isn’t that expensive, particularly when it comes to keeping business up and running.  Companies from the SMB to the midmarket will be able to use this ability to reduce bandwidth to get into replication and have some sort of DR site.”

The new user interface is a key part of the performance and reporting enhancements. The new graphical user interface provides a more streamlined management experience which provides quick access to the most commonly used areas of the product.

“We have made it super simple with wizards,” Raymond said. “That’s something that smaller customers in particular will like because it makes it easy for IT generalists.”

Performance is also improved by new dynamic deduplication cache sizing, which simplifies the configuration process and guarantees optimal performance by automatically selecting the ideal dedupe cache size based on available memory.

“The dynamic dedupe cache sizing can really fine tune how they set up their servers and the footprint the storage will take,” Raymond said. “It will particularly appeal to larger companies who will set up very large DR sites, because it can turn a server into a very powerful compression and dedupe machine that scales.”

Other performance improvements include protection schedule templates, nightly mount checks, and reduced memory consumption.

Platform support has also been expanded in AppAssure 5.4, to include support for a wide range of critical systems including VMware ESX 5.5, Oracle VirtualBox, UEFI, RHEL 6.5, and CentOS 6.5.

Dell is also highlighting how the replication, reporting and management enhancements in AppAssure 5.4 strengthen MSPs’ ability to manage customers’ backup needs. In addition, Dell Software now offers a variety of sales tools and training materials tailored specifically for the MSP community.

An imminent announcement by Dell on a change to suite pricing for the backup, replication and disaster recovery suite will also be of particular interest to MSPs.

“We are moving towards a capacity-based suite model, where we provide an a la carte license, so all of them can be used where and how you wish,” Raymond said. “This is just a few weeks off. It will appeal to both large and small MSPs who leverage the cloud.

AppAssure 5.4 is available now.

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